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Re-Considering Sharks’ 2003 Draft



Credit: Dinur (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

There’s no such thing as a perfect Draft.

That’s an obvious statement, but it’s worth remembering when re-considering the San Jose Sharks’ 2003 Draft.

Yesterday, I was surprised by the blowback when the Sharks’ 2003 Draft class came out as the franchise’s best in terms of Games Played and Goals.

Headlined by Joe Pavelski, Milan Michalek, Matt Carle, and Steve Bernier, San Jose unearthed 3,387 regular season games and 808 goals (and counting) from 2003.

Best, Worst Drafts in Sharks History

But instead of stressing the positive – the Sharks netted a pair of top-six forwards in Pavelski and Michalek, and a top-four defenseman in Carle who they converted into a No. 1 in Dan Boyle via trade – the focus was on the negative.

Why didn’t the San Jose Sharks pick Jeff Carter, who went to the Philadelphia Flyers at No. 11, over Michalek at No. 6?

Why didn’t the Sharks select Zach Parise, who went to the New Jersey Devils at No. 17, over Bernier at No. 16?

Why didn’t GM Doug Wilson and director of amateur scouting Tim Burke choose Patrice Bergeron, who went to the Boston Bruins at No. 45, over Josh Hennessey at No. 43?

Why didn’t they nab Shea Weber, who went to the Nashville Predators at No. 49, over Carle at No. 47?

And so on.

But the fact is, most of the rest of the league would gladly take the San Jose Sharks’ haul from the 2003 Draft over their own picks.

Anaheim Ducks352277413422116Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf, Drew Miller, Shane O'Brien
San Jose Sharks338780811531961Joe Pavelski, Milan Michalek, Matt Carle, Steve Bernier
Nashville Predators315837210571429Ryan Suter, Shea Weber, Kevin Klein
Boston Bruins29095287911319Patrice Bergeron, Nate Thompson, Mark Stuart
Chicago Blackhawks29053017551056Brent Seabrook, Corey Crawford, Dustin Byfuglien
Philadelphia Flyers27916778391516Jeff Carter, Mike Richards
Los Angeles Kings24884995451044Dustin Brown, Brian Boyle
Buffalo Sabres23755387321270Thomas Vanek, Jan Hejda, Clarke MacArthur
Pittsburgh Penguins2320232288520Marc-Andre Fleury, Matt Moulson
St. Louis Blues19634535831036David Backes, Lee Stempniak
Montreal Canadiens1949176246422Jaroslav Halak, Maxim Lapierre
Edmonton Oilers1905204287491Kyle Brodziak
Atlanta Thrashers1755108443551Braydon Coburn, Toby Enstrom
Florida Panthers1673272352624Nathan Horton, Tanner Glass
Minnesota Wild1669303696999Brent Burns
Carolina Hurricanes16024566301086Eric Staal
Dallas Stars1512287406693Loui Eriksson
Columbus Blue Jackets1417177301478Marc Methot, Nikolai Zherdev
Colorado Avalanche1338216230446Brad Richardson
New Jersey Devils1241430450880Zach Parise
Ottawa Senators1176132121253Brian Elliott, Patrick Eaves
Detroit Red Wings112936131167Jimmy Howard, Kyle Quincey
Calgary Flames1061137357494Dion Phaneuf
Vancouver Canucks1043258317575Ryan Kesler
New York Islanders72756155211Robert Nilsson
Washington Capitals653113108221Eric Fehr
Toronto Maple Leafs58079109188John Mitchell
Tampa Bay Lightning491182644Nick Tarnasky
New York Rangers4255084134Hugh Jessiman
Phoenix Coyotes0000

Pavelski, Michalek, Carle, Bernier, and company rank second in this Draft class in team Games Played and Points, and first in Goals.

Beyond the numbers, who had a better Draft than the Sharks?

Probably the Anaheim Ducks and Predators and Chicago Blackhawks? The Ducks pulled two first-line forwards in Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf, the Preds selected a pair of No. 1 defensemen in Weber and Ryan Suter, and the Blackhawks found two top-pairing blueliners in Brent Seabrook and Dustin Byfuglien, and a two-time Stanley Cup-winning goaltender in Corey Crawford.

Maybe the Flyers, who netted two first-line forwards in Carter and Mike Richards? Philadelphia also got hefty returns when they traded both in 2012.

That’s a handful of teams – at best. And Pavelski, Boyle, and a 39-goal campaign from Dany Heatley, who came to San Jose in a deal centered around Michalek, isn’t a meager result either.

But every other organization in the league?

Sure, the Bruins plucked Bergeron, but what about Mark Stuart at No. 21 over Ryan Kesler at No. 23?

Sure, the Minnesota Wild selected Brent Burns, but after Burns, their most successful pick was Patrick O’Sullivan and his 334 games.

Sure, the New Jersey Devils landed Parise, but after Parise, their most successful pick was Petr Vrana and his 16 games.

Yeah, it would’ve been nice if the Sharks had somehow scored Carter, Parise, Bergeron, Weber, and Pavelski in the same Draft.

But 29 other NHL teams would say the same thing. And most would’ve been happy with just one Pavelski.

An aside: The Sharks weren’t just lucky to select Pavelski and his 1,250 games and 449 goals in the seventh round. Of course, there’s some luck involved in any successful Draft pick. But there’s also skill: Do you think an eventual seventh-rounder like Pavelski was on every organization’s Draft list? Of course not. So give Wilson, Burke, scout Pat Funk, and others some credit for valuing Pavelski above others.

The Draft is an inexact science. You’re going to miss on most of your selections. Just 16 of 2003’s 292 picks played over 1,000 games, and this was considered one of the best Drafts ever. You have 30 front offices vying for the same, very limited number of hits.

Sure, you can focus on who the San Jose Sharks didn’t get in the 2003 Draft. But the reality is, the Sharks got so much out of it.

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